Swinerton and “The Future of the City”

By the year 2030, 5 billion people—60% of the world’s population—will live in cities. Economists agree that urban building has a powerful “multiplier effect” on economic recovery, creating not only housing, but jobs and growth. For example, Swinerton’s NEMA (10th and Market) project in San Francisco had more than 600 craft workers on site at its peak. Once tenants move in, it will still need a workforce to support such a large, mixed-use community. The surrounding neighborhood will see a boost from the local spending of new residents and visitors. It’s a “chain reaction of growth.”

Well-managed cities have entered the era of “New Urbanism”—a city planning movement that promotes walkable and bike-friendly neighborhoods containing a range of housing, building, and job types. It encompasses traditional design principles and mixed-use development oriented around sustainable transit options.

The concepts of New Urbanism began as response to post-World War II suburban sprawl, in which cars became the central transportation mode and building type segregation (housing, retail, industrial, office, etc.) was accepted as the norm. New Urbanism gained popularity in the United States in the 1980s and has gradually influenced real estate development, urban planning, and municipal land-use strategies. New Urbanists believe their strategies can reduce congestion, increase the supply of affordable housing, and limit suburban sprawl.

Associated with the New Urbanism is the concept of deep renovation. A recent co-publication by the AIA and the Rocky Mountain Institute entitled “Deep Energy Retrofits: An Emerging Opportunity” states that “most of the buildings erected in the second half of the 20th century were built with little regard to energy use  or impact on climate.” The amount of existing building stock that could benefit from deep energy renovation is enormous. Some the same technologies that we now use for designing and building high-performance buildings (such as BIM, reality capture, energy analysis software, and advanced visualization tools) can also be used for deep energy retrofits.

Swinerton’s local building knowledge, urban building capabilities, and ability to manage vast amounts of data will help propel the target market cities we serve into the future. Culture, business, technology—everything cutting edge is converging in cities. Swinerton will play a major role in making this convergence a reality!

-By Madigan Talmage-Bowers